Saying goodbye is never easy
The world still feels like a different place without my Oma in it, even though it’s been a week since she passed away. She was one of the most important people in my life and played a pivotal role in who I am today.
Considering how lucky she was to live so long and how she was suffering towards the end, I thought I would find some peace when she passed. Instead, I still feel very weepy. I’ve lost a woman who enriched my life with so much love, humour and a passion for all things living. We spent hours hand-in-hand in her garden when I was a little girl – as we wandered she would tell me stories about the plants, flowers and animals around us. She also taught me how to bake and encouraged me to make a mess in the kitchen if I was having fun. Her notorious stubborn streak is something else she shared with me, which I realize now, both my kids have also inherited – it’s an Oma trait that I now cherish.
Having to explain death to your kids is by far one of the hardest responsibilities as a parent. For my kids, Oma was a cherished great-grandmother whom they loved. She was also the first person that they loved and lost (we did deal with the loss of a one of our cats, Leela in the fall which was quite traumatic). Whichever faith or religion you believe in, death is an emotional rollercoaster. It’s not easy to deal with your own grief, while being strong and composed for your children.
At the age of six, Katrina’s old enough to understand the loss, but at three, it’s hard to tell how much Ian understands. The day of the funeral service, we made a special trip to the florist and both kids picked out a flower for Oma. They also picked out a flower for themselves to bring home. At the service, I showed Katrina the casket and explain to her that Oma was lying inside and at peace – luckily it was a closed casket.
The service was lovely and the kids were incredibly well behaved. On the way to the cemetery, we talked about the casket and what was going to happen. I didn’t want any surprises and I find that honesty is the best approach when dealing with difficult situations. They both knew I was upset and they saw everyone else that they loved crying and saying goodbye. As we said our final goodbyes, they laid their special flowers on her casket and blew kisses.
Some of our conversations since the funeral still revolved around life and death – some questions are harder to answer than others, but we try our best. There are still tears being shed, but there are also memories being shared of who Oma was when I was a little girl and how much she meant to me. Kids are resilient and their innocence and perspective on life has truly helped me weather the loss of my beloved Oma. I find comfort in knowing that her memory will live in our hearts and she will forever be a part of us.